Technician Group

Discussion in 'Royal Signals' started by CardinalSin, Oct 8, 2005.

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  1.'s hardly a new topic (and I'm probably asking for a good flaming here :wink:)


    Now we've all heard the jungle drums about the proposed merger of Sys Eng Tech and IS Engr CEQs into a single "ICS Engineer". I've canvassed the opinion of an awful lot of people on this one and most think that there's some merit in merging these people at Class 3 - 2 level, even if from a budgetary point of view. The stats say that the Army loses about 40% of personnel (I think) by the 4 year point. So the argument goes that we shouldn't invest too much training in them too early, because it is very costly. That's very beancounter-driven I agree but there we go, let's just accept the argument for now.

    We (the Corps) paint the baby ICS Engineers in Corps colours and send them out to a unit to get modular special-to-role training and do whatever job we need people to do, whether that's working on data networks, satcom, computer systems, etc etc. After 4 yrs, they're usually JNCOs ready to go off to do their Class 1. THAT's the point at which we then give them the advanced training and allow them to specialise. So, for example, they do a 12 month Class 2-1 upgrading, broken down into 6 months of core skills, followed by 6 months of specialist stuff depending upon what they WANT to do and where their skillsets take them.

    After that it gets rather fuzzy.

    I personally think that this is the point at which the ICS Engr trade would naturally split into "Network Engineering" and "Information Systems" streams. Sounds familiar doesn't it? I was unable to find a single FofS/Tech/Supvr/IS Engr who thought that the trades could be headed by a single supervisory position, as they continue to diverge so much.

    HOWEVER....I've been chatting to an guy recently who WAS an Inst Tech (now geek) and he put an interesting thought in my head. He seemed to think that the senior Inst Tech could take on some of the equipment care/maintenance responsibilities. This might potentially make it easier for the FofS to straddle the larger ICS beast, without the burden of looking after vehicles and tents etc. I thought it was quite an interesting idea and thought that some of you might want to consider it - let's call it critical appraisal - and let me know your thoughts. Bearing in mind that networks are becoming simpler and it's the systems that are becoming more complex and challenging perhaps there's some mileage in it.

    Right then - this isn't a wah (relax, Boney M) so let's have an adult discussion about it. Also bear in mind that we're not talking about tomorrow, we're talking about probably 5 years or so ahead, so we're also into Reacher, Falcon and DII(F) by then.

    (CS prepares to take incoming...)
  2. CS you touch a heart string with this one. Originally I would fight tooth and nail to defend my own trade groups (Inst Tech) position in the changing comms world that we are currently in. However I find that the more the MOD commercialise CIS especially Infrastructure the more we as Inst Techs have begun to specialise towards internal wiring.

    I would argue that in around 5 years time there will be no need for a Mil trade that can cope with external line plant (underground/overhead copper and fibre) and once that happens then I would argue that it would make more sense to extend the skillset of the IS Eng and Sys Eng to cover structured cabling (CAT5) and Fibre Optics. The planning of such networks could be added to the IS Sup as it is already on the FoS course.

    Then do away with Inst Tech all together allowing progression into IS Eng or Sys Eng where appropriatte. It is the success of structured networks and the creating of DCSA contracts that has led to this position coming clear.

    The king is dead, All hail the king!
  3. Surely we are to end up with a single technical group supervisor?

    They'd be trained with a broad range of ICS skills and once qualified they'd be allowed to specialize? We are meant to be going to a modular trg system, train where its needed?

    Thou how do u manage postings? Would we need to post vacancies on a website (etc) and submit a CV to get a posting
  4. The problem with specialising and modular training is it does not allow the unit to have soldiers with the required skillsets quickly.

    You provide a class 3 with the basic skillset and he/she lacks the required skillset for deployment or upcoming projects and has to return to BLandford for specialist training (while competing for slots with the rest of the Army). However if you train your class 3 with everything he/she is a lot more employable however will suffer from skillfade greatly. You also stand to over qualify at a lower rank range which can encourage the 4 year departure to civ street.
  5. But if that skill is required in most units then surely the skill will be taught? If AS and RS merge I would expect everyone still to be taught VP, basic JMH, generators, IS, Ptarmigan overview and a few radios (maybe RR) etc. Uncommon skills like Switch/central wouldn't be taught unless neeeded.

    Hopefully training will switch from being system specific to skill sets leaving modular training to look at systems, so soldiers will have some basic knowledge they can apply to every system....

    p.s. Why am I talking like an operator .. I'm maybe going to the dark side .... ICS Eng (but how many months)
  6. Polar your thinking is sound however Blandford has been concerned with the length of time it takes to train soldiers wieghed against how often or how quickly a soldier requires that skill.

    You could decrease training times especially within the technician groups if you were to thin out the some of the more specialised stuff, that could reduce training significantly. How many Techs go to a Ptarmigan unit straight away or indeed within 5-6 years of leaving training?

    Is a reduction in training worth the risk of a less rounded tradesman?

    A lot of postings now (especially Bowman Units) have soldiers loaded on to courses combined with their posting order.
  7. The new thinking is totally opposite to how it used to be. Within the tech side it used to be that you specialised in one field (RR Tech, Clansman tech eg eg) then aspired to join these together to become the supervisor for your field.

    I can see that in the future (to speed things up as disco has said) they all come out of training with no skills that are greatly required just to get them out into the field army - then after a few years they then pick a trade path having been something like a combat siggy!!

    Whilst they are (for all purposes) tradeless they can get a feel for what trade they choose!! Sounds good in theory but how much of a diverse interaction have they had in their first posting!! This is the big stumbling block !! How many of us have been directed down a certain carier path? I have nearly always worked 1st line at HQ's whether they be in the field with 43*'s or at HQ's like Land or ARRC. This is not of my choosing but it has been good. How with some youngster that has done a bit of time at one unit going to be able to choose?
    The attitude of them choosing seems to have to much faith in the sprogs ability to make decisions for themselves when we know where we want them!

    Yes I can see requirements changing and although sad I can see where disco is coming from with the end of a respected trade I do not like it.

    This subject is a hard one to answer and can be debated for a long time but in the end can we influence those in the big buildings?

    In my opinion though we could merge these technical trades (back) together but still have them seperate as the tech's used to be as mentioned in my first line! This could then be extended to rename the supervisors as I have heard before - FofIS aswell as FofS
  8. But why should trade be important? Trade in the civilian word conjures up to me things like carpenter, uphoslterer etc but I work in IT and we have a vast variety of job descriptions. I can't imagine it being very different in the regulars. I've been listening to many posts on this site on IS Eng and I still can't understand what it is.

    Even now when I've worked with IS Eng PSI's I still don't understand what it is about the trade is about, some make think its a DBA role, others make me believe its the person that configures routers. Partly I believe IS Eng is nothing more than a title which holds a wide variety of skills (which has already been taught in a modular fashion) and is working very well.
  9. Got admit to that post making me smile!!

    Polar you are correct there appears to be no real set in stone definition of slots for the IS Op/Eng. It is down to posting (as it is for a SysEng for example) Some are DBA`s others in networking, some in a Helpdesk work and some in PC repair config etc. I suppose thats why the launch of this new trade has been so problematic in that the Corps has tried to create a trade thats all things to all men if you catch my drift.

    Imagine starting out as a young IT geek only to find that you dont really do that much IT!! Or you have have a real knack for Network managment and config only to find yourself building PC `s and loading on your 1000th NT ISO while cleaning the Ops teams mice!!!!!

  10. This leads us on nicely to another of the reasons that this merger has been proposed (besides the beancounting ones!)

    As you would expect, if the IS Eng trade is misunderstood in the Corps then it is misundertstood everywhere! Every time an establishment is tweaked across the services and joint world, and someone decides they need somebody technical, they call for an IS Eng SNCO. Operationally, home base, sneaky beaky; whatever the environment, everybody wants IS Engs.

    This is obviously unsustainable at the moment, and also a pain in the Arrse, as most of these jobs could probably actually be done by a JNCO Tech. A merger of trades will create a huge pool of well trained and diverse tradesmen who can be used to fill these growing technical establishments.

  11. Agreed there is logic to what you say, however can you imagine the amount of training we would have to give to our IsEng soldier to make them able to do both jobs?

    This is when it no longer makes sense. Better to have 2 trades with some crossover rather than 3 trades wholey seperate or 1 super trade where skill fade and early departure are a problem.

    Unless we went modular to a proper posting/skillset matrix!

    Ooh we have just gone full circle again!!

  12. This is the same thing with other trades (i.e. a systems tech is expected to work on fixed exchanges, Satcom, VTC, Mobile systems and normally interfacing these to others) the only difference is that they are well established. The 'modern' Systems tech is now what was five seperate tech's!

    Yes there are lots of areas to most trades the big problem is that the IT field is still growing (new FALCON all IP !!) but the trade is struggling to catch up!

    As I have already said in other forums I beleive they should make another IS trade to help define more clearly who should do what but put them all under the Tech Group heading perhaps

    IS Eng Tech - New Inst Tech & Network builder - installs network infrastructure manages Backbone - routers, switchs, hubs, pc's - all hardware
    IS App Tech - Software expert with DB admin, user accounts, web design - all software (still a big area!)
    Sys Eng Tech - as they already are
  13. Isn't that the problem with the modular approach (and a trade thats very diverse), how on earth would Glasgow cope with cope with postings and promotions (i.e. getting the right person into the correct slot).

    It seems to me that IS Eng (and techs) would be better served by adopting the regimental system (CO promotes people into regt slots) or to take that even further, tech slots are advertised and people apply for them. May seem a bit too civvy but units get someone well qualified for the posts they have vacant and the soldier gets the post he wants.
  14. Theres definatly some legs in that but it can create an "elite" or "selective" group and MCM would have problems moving around the meadiocre.
  15. Same way they do now, with a big fcuking tombola.

    Amazing how the only solutions seem all to familiar.